The ‘supermodel’ phenomenon dominated the eighties fashion world and describes an era when a small selection of exceptionally beautiful women governed the scene. London’s Little Black Gallery lets the viewer get close to some of these incredible beauties – including Claudia Schiffer, Paulina Porizkova, Cindy Crawford and Eva Herzigova – with an exhibition of the striking, and much celebrated, photographs of Marco Glaviano, one of the most recognised living fashion photographers.
Marco Glaviano: Supermodels is Glaviano’s first solo exhibition in the UK, and the photographs on display – many of them black and white – can be seen as a tribute to a time when supermodels ruled the world. Glaviano’s iconic shots are carefully arranged, artistic compositions, and showcase his superb eye and passion for female sensuality. Here, too, one can see his admiration and fascination for the models and decadence and glamour of this era.
The viewer is brought face to face with Cindy Crawford covered in sand on a beach in the Bahamas, Paulina Porizkova’s perfect body, Claudia Schiffer gracefully sprawled on silky bed sheets, and Ashley Richardson mimicking the movement of a sweeping tree. The photographs in this exhibition are definitely not simply fashion images, but rather reveal themselves to be portraits of extraordinarily stunning models.
And although the world’s foremost supermodels, statue-like and oiled-up, seem untouchable for the gallery visitor, it becomes clear that the Italian-born artist must have close relationships with his subjects to enable the creation of such dazzling images, characterised by a classic and timeless appeal. Erotic and dramatic, innocent and beautiful, fetishised or touchingly natural – the photographs featured in Glaviano’s Supermodels capture the uniqueness of each model’s personality.
Born in 1942 in Sicily, Glaviano studied architecture at the University of Palermo, where his interest in photography grew while creating portraits of jazz musicians. In 1967 he moved to Rome and shortly after to Milan where he established and maintained his own photographic studio for eight years. During this time his photographs started to appear in major European fashion magazines and through this success he decided in 1975 to move to New York City. Soon he found himself working under exclusive contract for American Vogue and from 1982 until 1994 for Harper’s Bazaar. In 1982 Glaviano’s early interest in new digital technologies led him to publish the first ever digital fashion picture in Vogue magazine and in 1995 he designed and founded one of the most important studios worldwide, Pier 59.
And although Glaviano could have easily become a jazz musician, a successful architect or a theatre set designer – to mention just some of his many talents – he decided to make his passion developed during university his profession, and pursue a career in photography. In due course he became the go-to shooter for the legendary swimsuit calendars of Cindy Crawford, Paulina Porizkova and others.
Glaviano has shot more than 500 covers and editorials for major fashion magazines, such as Italian Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and ELLE. His interest in film and video also led him to direct a number of TV commercials and music videos and he has shot campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Clavin Klein, Robert Cavalli and L’Oreal, among others.
Glaviano has published ten books to date, and his highly collectable photographs are held in numerous private collections and are hung in many major museums worldwide. He has also had nine solo exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, Milan, Palermo and Capri. Marco Glaviano now lives between New York City and Milan.
Marco Glaviano: Supermodels
Until 24 March 2012
Selection of prints is available for sale
The Little Black Gallery
13A Park Walk
London SW10 0AJ